KSC Innovation Incubator

    IPP’s Innovation Incubator encompasses efforts to facilitate incorporating innovations and services from the commercial space industry to produce technologies needed for NASA missions. It also nurtures new technologies and ideas at NASA that will revolutionize the aeronautical and space industry. The program fosters partnerships that engage private citizens in aerospace technology development, bring fresh ideas into NASA, help emerging technologies reach maturity, and promote the growth of a competitive space industry.

    Innovation Incubator components include:

    • Centennial Challenges: NASA’s prize program for the “citizen inventor”
    • Innovation Transfusion: New links between NASA and creative companies
    • Facilitated Access to the Space Environment for Technology Development and Training (FAST): Opportunities for reduced-gravity flight testing for emerging technologies
    • Innovative Technology Initiative: Nurturing revolutionary concepts to benefit NASA missions and other national and global challenges

    The Centennial Challenges competitions encourage the participation of independent teams, individual inventors, student groups, and private companies of all sizes in aerospace research and development. “Citizen inventors” are charged with finding the most innovative solutions to specific technical challenges through competition and cooperation. Significant cash prizes are awarded.

    The Innovation Transfusion Program seeks to bring fresh ideas to NASA through technology workshops and developmental assignments with external organizations. One element, Innovation Ambassadors, allows NASA employees to spend up to a year working in high tech environments outside the agency where they can share their expertise while gaining valuable experience and new ideas to bring back to their jobs within NASA. Another element, Innovation Scouts, supports innovation workshops to be held between NASA and external organizations that have novel approaches to problems of interest to NASA.

    FAST has the dual objectives of demonstrating the purchase of commercial services from the emerging commercial space sector and advancing technology maturity through use of those services. The program utilizes commercially available flight test capabilities such as the Zero Gravity Corporation aircraft for parabolic flights. The current focus is on testing in micro-gravity, reduced-gravity or variable-gravity conditions on parabolic aircraft flights. See the Fall/Winter 2008 issue of Kennedy Tech Transfer News pp. 8-9.

    The Innovative Technology Initiative is intended to enhance NASA’s efforts to nurture new technologies and novel ideas to revolutionize aeronautical and space enterprises. Its central component is the NASA Innovation Fund, a new funding structure that is designed to support NASA innovators in the early stages of formulating concepts for novel technologies and new processes, particularly those with potential to also address other national and global challenges. Projects generally are those that are too early in their development to compete for support from other NASA funding sources.

    Whether you are an innovator at Kennedy Space Center or  you have technologies or capabilities that might be likely candidates for infusion into NASA missions, programs and projects, contact Kennedy’s IPP Office today.